Hi there! If you are new to my blog, welcome! I’m Mikaela Svarfvar, I’m a wedding and portrait photographer from Sweden but now living in London, UK. I got married to my Cornel 5thof May 2018.
This blog post is about how we planned our wedding, what we felt was worth hire people to do and what we could do ourselves. I’m not sponsored or any means get money from this. I will name a lot of people and business we hired in this post.
Let’s jump straight into it! You are getting married, you maybe feel overwhelmed over all the planning or you are very excited! I was both when we started to plan for our wedding!
I think the most important to talk with your partner is HOW much you guys want to spend on your wedding and on your honeymoon. When you know roughly how much you will spend and if you are getting help from parents or not, you have good place to start!
And then it comes down too… WHAT is most important for you. Are you a music fan and you just need a wedding band?! Or maybe your husband is a huge foodie and thinks that is most important of the whole day except marrying you of course!
Then you need to talk about WHEN you are getting married! Some people wants a long engagement, some short and some need time to be able to save up. Nothing is wrong or right, you do what you feel like. It always helps to have a lot of time to book the venue, photographer and so on.
Do you want a big wedding with a lot of guest? Or do you want a smaller one so you can spend more money on other things? YOU choose together with your partner what you guys want!
I will try to sum it up pretty in the end but there is much to write about weddings and planning!
The first thing I thought about getting married was I wanted it to be our day, how we want it and how we will enjoy it the most. We both are Christians and our faith is very important for us – we wanted a day full of our faith and joy! That was the most important for us.
For me was the wedding photographer the second most important. I knew I wanted someone that I knew, someone that I knew would blend in with my family and Cornel’s family. I wanted someone that cares a lot of what she is doing and have great honour and pride in what she does. It came pretty quickly to Martina Lundborg! We booked her very quickly because we got engaged 10thof September 2017 and decided on the wedding date 5thof May 2018. It was not a lot of time to actually get our photographer! I recommend that you book your wedding photographer as soon as you can, but know the date first, where and how many hours.
Venue – We went to bridebook.com and looked at venues. We looked at the prices and we wanted to have a weekend wedding. It means that guest is arriving on Friday, wedding Saturday and then maybe brunch on Sunday before leaving the venue. We didn’t want any of our family members to pay for accommodation and we wanted to spend as much time as possible with our guests.
Our thought was getting married at a castle but we realised that is not a great idea because we would need to rent a marquise and it was a lot of extra cost here and there.
Cornel is from South Africa and me being from Sweden, we decided to get married in England because it the easiest for our family and guest to travel too. We had to think about how much they needed to spend to get to our wedding!
We found Shaftesbury, a very cute and small town. (I wanted a lot of nature, I just love it!) We booked a viewing through bridebook.com at Springhead Trust. We fell in love with the place and they had rooms for our guest so everything was included in the price. The garden is amazing! Both me and Cornel felt that this is the one. It is not all fancy or glamorous, but it fitted us perfect.
To choose the venue you need to think about how many guests are coming, how much is catering, snacks and drinks going to be? How long do the people need to wait? If it’s really bad weather on the day, is there a beautiful room you can have your pictures taken instead at the venue?
Most of all, compare to other venues and look at them before you book anything. P.S. Check for hidden fees when you book!
Guests – Because of the location of the venue and how many friends and family members we have, we decided to just invite parents, siblings, grandparents and one friend each. Cornel chose to invite childhood friend Ruan, a great and funny man from South Africa to be Cornel’s best man. I invited my childhood friend Emelie and her husband from Sweden. I also invited our other friend Benedicte but she was due to give birth to her firstborn in May! So, I totally understood why she couldn’t come! Having a childhood friend like Emelie at our wedding was very special for me. And having her awesome husband Daniel there too. They are amazing!
I was very conflicted to just invite so few people but it was in the same time what I have been dreaming about. Being a room without having a microphone or not being able to speak to all of our guests just because time and amount of people, the day will pass so fast anyway. We wanted a cosy, intimate wedding with a lot of nature.
Because I was turning 30 and Cornel 35 and that we were getting married we had a birthday/pre-wedding party in Sweden for all my friends and relatives that we didn’t invite to the wedding. That meant the world to me and I was so grateful for every single person that was there to celebrate us. It would not be fair to invite so many crazy Swedes to England any way! (hehe)
So, there is no wrong or right, you are allowed to be selfish when it comes to the planning of your big day. I didn’t want to force a wedding that Cornel didn’t want to have and I didn’t want to get forced to a wedding that I didn’t want to have! To be able to compromise and be on the same page is everything.
What we wanted:
* Calm morning to get ready and have our pictures taken before the ceremony. No stress or time schedule that is too tight.
* Beautiful preparation pictures = booked a gorgeous hotel The Grosvenor Arms. I have seen it so many times, Brides getting ready in a stressful environment or in a bad lighting room. It is hard to get beautiful pictures in that kind environment. AND having a gift for my bridesmaids to remember the wedding and a kimono for me so I could just undressed easy and feel beautiful in the same time.
* I didn’t want to poke my eyes out just because I was nervous when I did my make-up. So, I hired the very talented Charlee Hulbert! My hair I got done at the salon across the street from the hotel.
* We didn’t want to worry about food or that any of our family members had to worry about it. We booked a catering firm that served canapes and we had a buffet (a lot of different allergies in the family. Me and Cornel are not really big foodies and it was more important to have something that was good to eat for everyone.
* First looks – I have been taking First looks a lot of times myself with couples and I love it. I love it even more after being through it myself! First looks are great in so many ways and for us having the moment to tell each other how much we love each other, how handsome/beautiful we looked and how excited we are to get married was really important for us. A tip is to be somewhere private, maybe close the nature or a lake, let the photographer have a lot of place to work with. I planned for a first look with my dad also, just because of our relationship and how close I’m with my Dad. He is such a role model for me and I love having the special moment with him.
* For flowers and cake, we booked it through Bridebook.com again. We had tasting of the cake and visit the florist before just to talk about what we needed and wanted.
* We wanted to spend a whole weekend with our families and guests.
* We wanted to be fun for our nephews and nieces too! Child friendly wedding.
* We wanted a day full of gratitude and joy over that we found each other. And celebrate what God have done for us!
We didn’t want:
* A lot of people in a venue that would cost 3x times more than we wanted to spend.
* Big wedding and no time to speak to all the people.
* Stress, little time to spend with guests and little time to relax and enjoy the day.
* Be overwhelmed and have to do everything ourselves. We live in London and we got married in Shaftesbury – its 3 hour drive so we knew that we needed to pack smart, hire help with some things and really ask for help with different things that was easy to do from our guests. I’m very grateful for all the help we got before, during and after our wedding day!
* A wedding that didn’t feel like us.
This helped us a lot:
1. Decorations, I love making it cosy. I had a good idea what I wanted to do in the reception room. We ordered fairy lights from lights4fun, we bought ivy from the florist, we bought wood plates to put the candles on from IKEA, we bought flowers for decoration at Tesco! We hired Laura from The Rustic Dresser – barrels, books and candelabras. (She is freakin awesome!)
We hired chairs and tables. I ordered prints from Framkalla because I wanted a photo wall with the fairy lights. We ordered clamps, napkins and other decorations from Amazon. Doing all this we saved a lot of money and time.
2. Have one-two people that you can rely on. Sometimes stuff happens that you couldn’t see happening and then you need someone in charge. Emelie and Cornel’s sister Ané really made my decoration ideas come to life! I was so sad that I didn’t have time to do it myself but it was other things I needed to do. I could hire someone to do the decorations if I didn’t think it was so much fun to plan and buying myself.
3. When you are choosing a wedding dress, it is easy to be overwhelmed and try a lot of different ones. I wanted something that covered my arms just because you never know in May how warm it would be. (There was actually a lot of snow one month before our wedding!) I didn’t want to spend too much money on the dress either, I wanted to be able to run, sit, lift kids up in the air and so forth without exposing too much skin for my new in-laws!
4. Clear expectations – We both knew what we wanted and what was most important for us. For us was to get married. On the wedding day, we let go of all the planning, rushing and stressing around. When the sun came up, it was our wedding day and we will enjoy every single minute of it. Have clear expectations how much you want to spend on your wedding day but low expectations that everything will be perfect, on your wedding day you can just roll what will come but most of all enjoy every minute before, during and after the ceremony. Let all worries be washed away and kiss your partner a lot! 🙂
5. Think about the future. We didn’t go into debt to get married. We have not gone for our honeymoon yet either. We decided early on to wait with the honeymoon because of our circumstances. We rather go somewhere we really want for a longer time period then to go away 3 days to a place we will not remember. Again, there is no right or wrong – it didn’t feel right for us. Have an EMERGENCY FUND for your wedding, there will always be something that will pop up so be prepared!
6. Be prepared that people can be sometimes crazy when it comes to weddings. Have strong boundaries and don’t get manipulated to change your wedding several times just because someone gets upset. It sounds really harsh, I know. For me a wedding will be a celebration of love and life. We needed to protect that with everything we had so it didn’t turn out to be a wedding that we didn’t want to have. This is not current with our families but if there is any family drama, let everyone know before hand that they can do all the drama after the wedding. If it doesn’t concern or involve the bride or the groom, deal with it and don’t mention it to them, they have enough of their own for the wedding day.
7. Try not to be a bridezilla! On your wedding day, relax, if something comes up you handle it right then and there, you don’t need to worry. I almost wanted to punch my little sister because I had bought a mini bottle of Prosecco to sip on when I got my make-up done. I felt like the queen I was and really enjoyed having my sister, my mum, Charlee, my friend Emelie and my awesome wedding photographer Martina in the room. I saw my sister eyeing my Prosecco and then she asked in her sweet but yet manipulative little voice “Can I have a taste?”. The rage came very quickly and I got really pissed at her for asking me that. That was MINE little MINI prosecco bottle! HOW DARE SHE? But then I calmed down and said she could taste little bit but it was mine. I bought it for my wedding day and I wanted to enjoy it. I can say that my sister’s eyes got really big for a moment there and she gave my mum a glance of “What did I do?!”. I’m glad that I kept my cool and was able to remember to not stress at all on our big day! (I really love my little sister but she can’t pull her sweet innocent face to get her will with me! LOL!)
8. When you hire a photographer – think about how many hours you have hired them for, include them when things change and let them do their job! Make sure to ask a lot of questions and plan together before the wedding. For some people, the wedding pictures is not that important and then we have me, that thinks it is the most important! Pictures last forever! If you are one of those that don’t want to spend a lot of a wedding photographer – hire your relative that is a hobby photographer or maybe think of just hired a wedding photographer just for 2-4 hours to get the portraits and the ceremony? DO NOT contact a photographer and ask them to lower their price just because you want the big package but you just want to pay for the small and that you don’t respect how that photographer works. It did happen to me and after that meeting I felt very sad but also angry. I was willing to meet them half of the way but when they asked for all pictures original RAW, questing how I worked and didn’t respect how I do business then there is a big NO THANKS. It is like you will go to the hair dresser and say: I want to have colouring, cutting and then extension for the price of 1/3 of the total price and while you getting everything done you are telling them how to do their job!
You might just see the photographer on your wedding day but remember they put time before the wedding, during the wedding and then after the wedding! If you choose to hire someone with no experience, pay them a small amount or something so you have someone that will show up and not cancel in last minute. Do a contract also so you know what you are going to get, when and for how much. It’s good to be clear!
Work with your photographer, to get those amazing pictures you want to have. Have fun! Be goofy, be serious, cry, laugh – don’t overthink that you have someone that is stalking you with a camera. Pick a photographer you feel that you can trust, that you enjoy spending time with and that get’s what you and your partner wants.
You have to realise that there are some moments that the photographer can do nothing about. Like a person stepping out in the aisle when the kiss is happening or things gets delayed and the photographers time is running out. Or bad weather, always plan B for worst case scenario!
Martina and William was so awesome at our wedding, I just felt bad that I didn’t think of bringing food to them at the First Look location! As a wedding photographer, you are on your feet a whole day, you need to get those lovely and important pictures and you need to go from different locations with different light and make it work! I said to my mum early on that she needed to look after Martina and William so they get food, something to drink and enjoying themselves. They went over and beyond for us and I really love that about them! Our wedding video we got from Martina is totally amazing! You can watch it below if you want!
How to help saving money for your wedding is all about what is worth spending money on and what is not. Think about your time too and how much that is worth. You decide with your partner! If you don’t have any time or want to think about all the details – hire a wedding planner!
I hope I helped in some way and feel free to contact me if you have any questions! You can follow me on Photographer Mikaela Svarfvar on Instagram or on FB. Below you can see our wedding video and some of the wedding pictures 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Photographer: Martina Lundborg (https://www.martinalundborg.se)
Wedding bouquet: (www.brightblooms.co.uk)
Wedding decorations: (https://www.therusticdresser.co.uk)
Wedding cake: (http://www.thecupcakediva.co.uk)
Wedding venue: (https://www.springheadtrust.org.uk)